Brainwashing and Mind Control

Join Kevin, Joe, and Toren with guest Dr. Rob Tarzwell as they discuss MK Ultra, Psychic Driving, LSD, and High Energy Electroconvulsive Therapy! Plus Lesser of Two Evils: would you rather get ocular myiasis or lose your memory and identity from psychic driving?

Music: “The Innsmouth Look” by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets



20 Responses

  1. The channel four Kevin is wondering about in not BBC 4. It is its own channel. They have shown several Derren Brown specials. My favourite one was where he programmed people to rob an armoured car. One of the interesting points was Derren Brown talking about having to ‘undo’ the programming he did.

    As for programming movies, if you want cold war awesomeness featuring brainwashing and hypnotism you should see the film Telefon starring Charles Bronson as a Soviet Agent with a photographic memory sent to the US to stop Soviet sleeper agents being activated to carry out terrorist attacks on US military installations and potentially starting another world war.

    There was actual brainwashing in The Prisoner. In the episode “Free For All”, Number Six is brainwashed to run for election to the post of Number Two.

  2. Star Wars (“These are not the droids you’re looking for”) and Men in Black come to mind, first of all, of course. One reference you guys might not know is the use of brainwashing by the Federation in the late 70s/early 80s British scifi series Blake’s 7. Blake was a rebel against the state who managed to escape prison and took over a super powerful alien ship and ran a guerilla war. Excellent series by Terry Nation, who was involved with Doctor Who.

  3. best episode of the prisoner, in my opinion. and it’s the one with the most awesome brainwashing scenes ever.

  4. If you don’t already know about Skeptoid then I’d be shocked, shocked I say! However, just incase you don’t; Mr. Dunning did a relevant episode on brainwashing you might enjoy. He covered a lot of similar material but certainly still worth a listen (as are all his shows). Cheers

  5. Dr. Rob remains my favourite guest of all time — what a radio voice! — and that was a great Lesser of Two Evils segment, but man, were there some obvious edits this week. Beat your editing minions until they mutter the words “crossfades and zero crossings” in their sleep!

    In TV land, V was full of the stuff: Michael Ironside was programmed to shoot Marc Singer, Faye Grant got the conversion process with the heavy lesbian overtones… it was good fun all around.

  6. This Podcast is the best Podcast.

    I plan to listen to it again and again.

    Great to have Dr. Rob back on the show, he’s always a fantastic guest.

  7. Classic brainwashing from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has a lot of flashy lights and WOWOWOWOWOWOWO noises. It’s incredible. There’s also one particular episode where the doctors use a subject’s phobias to program them into attempting to kill someone.

    This series is pretty damn awesome if you ask me…..

  8. As I may have noted on the pre-show facebook, the Candy Jones case isn’t just suspect because it sounds crazy, but because of the context. Candy was a pinup girl during WWII (tall, leggy as hell), who continued working in the modeling/fashion industry for a while after the war. But the hidden side was that she had been abused as a child, something that seems to have created significant emotional baggage for her.

    That’s not the real context though, though I suspect it plays a role. Her second husband was “Long John” Nebel, host of a very popular paranormal radio talk show (I think even briefly a TV show) in the 1960s. He invented the whole paranormal talk show idea, which has since been followed by amongst others Art Bell and his successor George Noory. Nebel enjoyed having on crazy guests, and clearly was in the entertainment business. Wiki in fact tells me that Jackie Gleason, a regular guest and big follower of UFOs and other weird topics, got into a heated argument on air with Gray Barker. Gray Barker is the guy who invented the Man in Black, and helped invent the Mothman. His book “The Silver Bridge” is the Mothman book no one reads except students of the occult, but in addition to that, he was likely the hoaxer who was responsible for the creepy phone calls described in John Keel’s Mothman Prophecies. And btw, Barker probably invented the Men in Black in part inspired by … Howard Philips Lovecraft. Yup. Barker was responsible for “working” with Albert Bender, who mysterious left the UFO scene (he basically got bored), but Barker helped weave a story of Bender being threatened by weird almost alien Men in Black. He later returned, and wrote how the Men in Black were actually in disguise, because their true forms were indescribable, and were so horrible that a human looking on them might go mad or die. Oh, and they lived in a secret alien city under the Antarctic ice. Did I mention that Barker was a massive fan and collector of pulp sci-fi? You do the math. So that’s the sort of folks Nebel had on his show.

    It was only when Candy was married to Nebel, whose stock in trade was conspiracy theories and other weirdness that the memories of her being mind controlled started to emerge.

    Even worse, Nebel “helped” the memories come out by hypnotizing Candy. As has become clear in recent decades, hypnotism is worse than useless for these kinds of things, and in fact can easily create such memories. It is no longer allowed as court evidence. It has been rejected in its role of uncovering “satanic abuse” cases that despite being mass orgies of sex and death, leave no physical evidence and seem straight outta Salem. And it is most of the underpinning of alien abduction, and its role there has also largely come to be utterly rejected even by many UFO believers. It is therefore not surprising, in the 1970s era of public sympathy for conspiracy theories and distrust in government, that a man who makes his trade in conspiracy theories, and whose qualifications were as a radio showman, would hypnotize his wife and produce elaborate conspiracy theories of mind control.

  9. Is A Clockwork Orange brainwashing? I always thought it was aversion therapy, though I guess that could be put under the umbrella of mind-control, it just happens to be an area of it that actually has a history of working. Hmmm.

  10. To throw out another pop culture reference – Vernor Vinge’s novel ‘A Deepness in the Sky’ prominently features mind control. It’s one of the finest sci fi novels I have ever read.

    On the other hand, I don’t know if you guys count novels as popular culture.

  11. I have two favourite popculture stuff on this subject:
    1) “Telefon” with Charles Bronson. The trigger for the sleeper agents is from the most beautiful Robert Frost poems: “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep. Remember. Miles to go before I sleep.” This movie should be remade! (
    2) Hypno-toad from Futurama

    1. Tarantino must also like TELEFON because “Miles to go before I sleep” plays a pretty prominent role in DEATH PROOF…..